Barrington’s Bob Lee passes the “Ride For 3 Reasons” torch to Barrington High School student Jan Gierlach.
Bob Lee has biked three rides around the perimeter of the United States. The reason why he decided to take on these rides was to raise awareness and support for those affected by cancer, ALS, or in need of hospice. He biked almost 12,000 miles over the course of these three journeys. This amounted to about 10 month’s total time that his wife, Anne, was not able to see him. However, they talked daily, and Anne was his biggest supporter through the biking challenges he battled through.
There is no doubt that Lee has inspired so many people to unite and fight for those in need, and now the baton is being passed to an ambitious 17-year-old Barrington High School student.
In 2007, Lee spoke about the Ride For 3 Reasons at Hough Street Elementary School. As he talked about raising awareness and support for those affected by ALS, cancer, or needing hospice, he captivated the attention of third-grader Jan Gierlach. When Gierlach heard Lee talk with zest for helping those in need, he had an epiphany. From that day forward, he became fixated on doing exactly what Lee did. Gierlach believes he was there for a reason that day as his parents are biking enthusiasts that have their own local bike shop.
The words that stuck with Gierlach the most from Lee’s speech were, “If you can dream it, then you can achieve it.” At this moment he realized it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when. Even though Gierlach is a devoted biker, he has not biked to the extent as he will in this upcoming adventure.
In February 2017, Gierlach will embark on almost the exact same journey that Lee did in 2001. He will depart from San Diego, California, and bike down the southern perimeter to St. Augustine, Florida. This journey will amount to a total of about 3,300 miles. Gierlach believes that although this may sound frightening at first, he feels that we must trust others as much as we trust ourselves.
At only 17-years-old for such a mission, Gierlach has no fear of being alone in rural parts of the United States for long durations. In fact, he is rather anxious to do it, and he is most excited about having the same wonderful experiences that Lee had. The best part about the rides for Lee was being able to take in the beauty of our country at a gradual pace, and meeting some caring people that were enthused about supporting the cause. Knowing that Lee has not had one bad experience with anyone over the course of his rides makes Gierlach feel much more confident.